3 great ideas to teach kids about healthy eating in a playful way {+ printable activity pack}

Raluca Loteanu November 6, 2017
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healthy eating activities for kids

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I've gathered here 3 healthy eating activities for kids that will help them learn about healthy food choices in a playful way!

The first years of childhood are full of learning opportunities. Young kids discover new things and learn new skills every day!

And these years are also the best time to teach children about healthy habits. If they learn about healthy eating at a young age, kids are more likely to make good food choices as they grow up.

This is why this subject was very important to me ever since Bogdan was a baby. I admit that I am not proud of all my food choices, especially when it comes to sweets, but this is an additional motivation to give him a right start when it comes to healthy eating.

So we do a lot of things to encourage him to eat healthy! And I am happy to see that our efforts are worthwhile!  I am glad to watch him adding healthy aliments into our shopping cart at the grocery store. Or talking about vitamins after he “devours” an apple. Or even trying to teach his dad about healthy eating if he sees him eating a hamburger.

If you want to encourage your kids to make healthy food choices, I’ve gathered here 3 activity ideas that are great for young children! You will also find a printable activity pack at the end of the article to help you put these ideas into practice.

Encouraging healthy eating in a playful way

Before getting to the activity ideas, I want to share with you some simple things that we constantly do to encourage Bogdan to eat healthy.

We started ever since he was a young toddler and they really made a difference!

1. Talking about healthy eating

We discuss with him about the effects of food on our body.

We explain that unhealthy food:

– makes us feel tired and have less energy

– is affecting our  immune system and we can get sick more often

– is causing damage to our teeth (and our body in general)

– has very low nutritional value and it doesn’t provide us the nutrients that our body needs

– has a lot of calories and eating too many calories a day can affect our body. (I try not to talk about the fact that unhealthy food can make us fat because I don’t want him to focus on the appearance of people and make judgments about it.)

I also talked to him about the benefits that healthy food brings to the body. He knows that fruits and vegetables have vitamins and helpful nutrients. And we discuss how these are helping us grow strong and healthy.

2. Involving the child in grocery shopping and cooking

When kids are involved in cooking or grocery shopping they develop a good relationship with food. They see how a meal is prepared and they get to participate in the process!

This will make them more likely to try new foods and enjoy the meals.

photo credit: FamVeld / shutterstock.com

3. Being a role model

As I wrote before, I am certainly not a great role model when it comes to healthy eating. But in front of my child, I try to always make good choices. Because I know that he is watching me!

He has sometimes seen us eating food that was unhealthy (like hamburgers or fries). And he eats sweets when we go to a birthday or on a visit. But we try to keep these moments as exceptions and focus on healthy eating in the rest of the time.

I don’t want to set interdictions that can frustrate him (like not eating unhealthy food at a birthday party where other kids eat it). Instead, I talk with him about why we don’t eat that food on a daily basis. And this works great for us!

4. Making meals an enjoyable experience

The fact that Bogdan knows many things about healthy eating doesn’t mean that he likes all the healthy aliments! Not at all! In fact, he often refuses vegetables like broccoli or spinach.

I never force him to eat something that he doesn’t like. I don’t insist if he says that he doesn’t enjoy something that I cooked (even if this is sometimes frustrating for me).

He had periods when he didn’t eat fruits or yogurt or chicken breast. But in time he changed his mind on his own. I only offered him alternatives and asked his opinion regarding the meals to find out if I can do something to make them tastier.

photo credit: FamVeld / shutterstock.com

Healthy eating activities for kids

I want to share with you 3 activity ideas that my son enjoys and that offer him the perfect opportunity to learn about healthy eating.

`1. Healthy choices vs unhealthy choices

For this game, you will need pages 2-3 from the activity pack (you can download it below).

Here is how to prepare the activity:

– print pages 2 and 3 from the activity pack

– cut all the food cards from page 2

– invite your child to sort the food cards into healthy or unhealthy choices and place them on the right spots on page 3.

(Note: There are more cards than empty spaces to make the activity more challenging.)

You can use this activity to explain to the child why a specific food is healthy or unhealthy.

2. Happy plate game

For this game, you will need pages 2 and 4 (or 5) from the activity pack.

Here is how to prepare the activity:

– print pages 2 and 4 (or 5) from the activity pack (page 4 is more printer-friendly, page 5 is more colorful – you can choose the one you like most)

– cut all the food cards from page 2 (or use the ones from the previous activity)

– cut on the grey line on page 4 (o 5) to get two separate plates (One of the plates – the one with the smiley face- will be the Happy Plate)

– invite your child to put the food cards on the plates: the healthy food on the Happy Plate and the unhealthy food on the other plate.

To make the activity more engaging ask the kids why they chose one of the plates and use that opportunity to talk about how healthy food can make their body happy.Another way to play this game:

This is an alternative that my son liked a lot!

We “invited” a stuffed animal at the table and Bogdan taught him about healthy eating. We placed both plates on the table, in front of the stuffed animal, and Bogdan put the food cards in the plates while explaining why they are healthy or not.

3. My grocery list

This is a very simple idea that you can use both for pretend play and in real life.

Here is how to prepare the activity:

– print page 6 from the activity pack

– (optional) laminate the page or put it on a heavyweight sheet protector (like this one) and use dry-erase markers (like the ones from Crayola) to write on it (this way you will be able to reuse it over and over again)

There are two ways to use this list:

– For pretend play

Invite your child to create his own grocery list using the categories on the page. For each category, ask the child what to add to the list and write down the answers.

Then you can create a mini grocery store using a grocery play food set for kids and invite the child to find and buy the items on the list.

Here are some ideas of playsets that you can use:

Grocery Basket

Fruits and Vegetables Shopping Basket Grocery Play Food Set for Kids

Kids Pretend Play Grocery Shopping Play Toy Food Set.

You can find more details about how we create a pretend play grocery store here: 2 easy pretend play ideas that will make learning time more fun.

– In real life

This is my favorite way to use this list! If you are used to creating regular meal plans for your family, it will be very easy to integrate this into your routine. But even if you don’t have a meal planner, you can use this list anytime you plan a trip to the grocery store.

Here is how it works:

Before creating your shopping list, invite your child to create their own list using the page from the activity pack.

For each category, ask the child what to add to the list and write down the answers. You can try to limit the answers to 2-3 items per category to make sure that you can really buy everything on the list. Then you can use a separate list to add the items that you need to buy.

The fact that the kids are involved in the process will make them happy. And will make your life easier because they will be glad to accompany you to the grocery store!

This activity will help kids learn to make healthy choices when they buy food. And it’s also a great way to get them involved in grocery shopping!

Download the Healthy Eating Activity Pack

To download the printable activity pack you just need to subscribe using the below form.

More from Playful Notes

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Teaching kids about healthy eating: I've gathered here 3 healthy eating activities for kids (and a printable activity pack) that will help them learn about healthy choices in a playful way! | Healthy eating activities for toddlers and preschoolers #ActivitiesForKids

Teaching kids about healthy eating: I've gathered here 3 healthy eating activities for kids (and a printable activity pack) that will help them learn about healthy choices in a playful way! | Healthy eating activities for toddlers and preschoolers #ActivitiesForKids

photo credit preview photo: FamVeld / shutterstock.com

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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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